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15 indulgent meals for Buffalo's snow shovelers

When explorers undertake travel to the North Pole on foot, they eat a fat-rich diet, because they’re burning as many calories as a small-blast furnace.

Snow shovelers on Buffalo streets face similar struggles, but no one’s going to make a National Geographic documentary about them. They have to find their rewards where they can, and I would suggest that the restaurants of Western New York are an excellent place to start.

As snowflakes exfoliate numb skin and howling winds suck the breath from your lungs, let the down-parka hug of these Buffalo-area restaurant dishes keep the home fires burning.

Inspiration for this collection came from the Terrace at Delaware Park, 199 Lincoln Parkway, in the Marcy Casino. There, chef Bruce Wieszala has started offering cassoulet, a French-inspired classic.

It’s a meat-and-bean casserole whose “ideal consumer is a 300-pound blocking back who has been splitting firewood nonstop for the last 12 hours on a subzero day in Manitoba,” said Julia Child, the cookbook author and groundbreaking television cooking star.

Its components vary, but Wieszala’s starts with his garlicky housemade sausage. It’s simmered with tarbais beans, duck confit, pork belly, smoked duck breast, duck stock, and topped with garlic bread crumbs ($24).

Here are 14 more suggestions – including a vegan entry, because vegetable eaters have to shovel, too:

Chicken-fried steak

The Yelling Goat, 205 Central Ave., Lancaster

Years went by without finding a credible version of this Southern wonder, but this plate ended my personal drought. Tenderized beef, floured and fried to a golden crust comes blanketed in peppery cream gravy, on a foundation of lumpy mashed potatoes. ($19.95)

Chicken-fried steak at the Yelling Goat. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

. . .

Hungarian goulash over spätzle

Scharf’s German Restaurant, 2683 Clinton St., West Seneca

It’s not strictly German, but the West Seneca restaurant offers chunks of beef stewed into tenderness in a paprika-infused jus. It’s served ladled over housemade dumpling strips, with choice of potato, vegetable and salad on the side. ($13.25)

Hungarian goulash over spätzle at Scharf's German Restaurant. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

. . .

Risotto di costolette

Frankie Primo’s +39, 51 W. Chippewa St., Buffalo

Pieces of beef short ribs braised in red wine are mixed in with risotto. Already creamy from the arborio rice’s starch, it’s fortified further with goat cheese that melts into the matrix, along with porcini and wild mushrooms, before being topped off with hunks of beef. ($28)

. . .

Colorado green chile burger

Allen Burger Venture, 175 Allen St., Buffalo

There are lots of over-the-top offerings at this heavy metal burger joint, but only one patty comes deluged in an avalanche of Colorado pork green chili. Number Seven, as it’s called, has a heart of dry-aged Black Angus beef under Monterey jack cheese, backed up with house-cut fries. ($16)

Colorado green chile burger at Allen Burger Venture. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

. . .

Papas con chorizo

Taqueria los Mayas, 3525 Genesee St., Cheektowaga

This restaurant’s array of Mexican blue plate specials includes robustly spiced pork chorizo sausage fried with potatoes, topped with two eggs and cotija cheese, with rice, beans and tortillas, spiced up with access to the salsa bar. ($12.95)

. . .

Pasta fasoola

Santasiero’s, 1329 Niagara St., Buffalo

A dish so simple it started as a cook’s lunch, not fancy enough for the menu. That changed, and the vegan mixture of garbanzo and butter beans, with ditalini pasta with tomato in a garlic-onion broth, has been a mainstay since, served with bread and sautéed hot peppers. ($9.75)

Pasta fasoola at Santasiero's. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

. . .

Short rib Stroganoff

Lucia’s on the Lake, 4151 Lake Shore Road, Hamburg

Beef short rib, braised until fork-tender, combined with crimini mushrooms and tossed with broad pappardelle noodles, finished with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a big dollop of crème fraiche for a luxe take on the home-cooked standard. ($23)

. . .

Loco moco

Seabar, 475 Ellicott St., Buffalo

Diners who think Seabar is a sushi joint forget how chef-owner Mike Andrzejewski “Beat Bobby Flay” on the Food Network. It was his version of the Hawaiian surfer mainstay loco moco. A fat half-pound beef patty seared on the flattop sits on a throne of fried rice, crowned with two fried eggs and sluiced with beef gravy and chile oil. ($14)

Loco moco at Seabar. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

. . .

Tonkotsu ramen

Sato Ramen, 3268 Main St., Buffalo

This isn’t the cheap plastic packet soup, this is fully fledged broth simmered for days. It tastes like you’re drinking pork gravy, in a good way. The drink-it-from-the-bowl broth is backed up with springy fresh noodles, slices of pork belly and a soft-boiled egg. ($12.99)

. . .

Poutine burger

Juicy Burger Bar, 1 Buffalo St., Hamburg

The beef burger gets it started, but then it’s topped by another calorie-packed meal by itself. The Quebecois classic trinity of fresh-cut fries, cheese curds and housemade beef gravy gives this handheld serious heft. ($13)

Poutine burger at Juicy Burger Bar. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

. . .

Hangover burger

Stack Burger, 1506 Abbott Road, Lackawanna

There’s an entire greasy spoon breakfast teetering atop this burger. Hash browns, thick-cut bacon and a fried egg, with Stack Burger’s housemade steak sauce, make it a perfect breakfast for any extremely physically active person. ($8.99)

Hangover burger at Stack Burger. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

. . .

Prairie platter

Zorba's Texas Hots, 5 Lee St., Depew

It’s a platter of carbs covered in cinnamon-scented Texas sauce, but not to be confused with the Nick Tahou’s garbage plate of Rochester fame. It’s a lighter cousin, a foundation of crispy thin-gauge french fries, topped with hot dogs, mustard, onions, sliced cheddar and sauce. ($7.25)

. . .

Roast pork with spätzle

Black Forest Adler, 2447 Niagara Falls Blvd.

A healthy helping of spoon-tender pork, backed up with a generous dune of housemade spätzle pasta, drenched in an earthy gravy with dark beer at its heart. Don’t worry about vitamins – it comes with the most elaborate house salad in town. ($15.95)

Roast pork with spätzle at Black Forest Adler. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

. . .

Bigos

Polish Villa II, 1085 Harlem Road, Cheektowaga

Three different kinds of pork power this version of Polish hunter stew with homemade fresh and smoked kielbasa, roasted pork, sauerkraut, celery, carrots and onions served over mashed potatoes or rye bread – with soup or salad, more potatoes, vegetable, bread and butter. ($13.45)

Bigos at Polish Villa II. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

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